This is not a painting

Surfaces are so strange; not enough attention is paid to them though they’re where almost all the action is. The painting realizes this, as does the painter who says, “I can’t think of anything more exciting than the surface of things” * and the other painter who says, “my objective is to see my face in the palm of my hand.” **

The surface is where the painting does all its thinking: don’t be fooled into thinking that what you see in a good painting is some sort of Platonic rendering brought down from above or up from below to assume its transformation as The Form behind the Form. No, the paint has seeped through the painters’ deft preparation, very often through layers upon layers of gesso and duct tape, all by itself, in whatever shape it’s in, to make contact with the mind of the canvas itself, oozing through the crevices, finding its home as the thinking brain of the image; and finally, at last, all that can be seen of the painting is the surface.

 Photo and composition by the author from an ad appearing in The New York Review of Books (Nov 22, 2018 edition) for the Bruce Nauman show at MOMA thru February, 2019.  *Alex Katz. **Jack Whitten. 

Photo and composition by the author from an ad appearing in The New York Review of Books (Nov 22, 2018 edition) for the Bruce Nauman show at MOMA thru February, 2019.  *Alex Katz. **Jack Whitten.